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Authoritarian attitudes and support for radical right populists

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journal contribution
posted on 20.09.2019, 05:20 by Todd Donovan

This paper examines which parties attract support from people with authoritarian attitudes by comparing multi-party systems to a pure two-party system (the US). It proposes reasons why radical right populist (RRP) parties may serve as outlets for illiberal sentiments in multiparty systems, and offers reasons why such attitudes could correspond with support for the US Republican Party. Some have raised concerns about democratic deconsolidation in liberal democracies. There is limited evidence here consistent with deconsolidation. Politically authoritarian attitudes do exist among a small but non-trivial proportion of electorates in established democracies. In multiparty systems people with such attitudes were more likely to be supporters of smaller RRP parties that generally do not join government, but not centre-left or centre-right parties. However, US Republicans had supporters who resembled European RRP supporters in their politically authoritarian attitudes, and authoritarian attitudes were a notable predictor of support for Donald Trump in 2016.

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